Recent developments in digital health

Everyone is talking about digital health, but what sorts of things does it include?
Telemedicine is the real time interactions between patient and doctors using digital communications, and also remote peer to peer consultations on medical topics. Telehealth covers patient monitoring, for example patients using blood pressure monitors which relay data into secure systems which use algorithms to show patterns. Telecare is usually non-medical and includes panic alarms worn by elderly patients to alert people if they need help, or even sensors on gas cookers to help people with dementia remain independent in their own homes for longer. Digital Health also includes a wide range of ‘next generation’ technologies that have the potential to disrupt the ways that healthcare is delivered today.

Our conference at the Royal Society of Medicine, ‘Recent developments in digital health 2018’, will bring together leading experts in the field of digital healthcare to examine digital technology in the health sphere more widely. We will be looking at next generation technologies including chatbots, big data & analytics as well as other hot topics that affect everyone in the NHS.

Our conference at the Royal Society of Medicine, ‘Recent developments in digital health 2018’, will bring together leading experts in the field of digital healthcare to examine digital technology in the health sphere more widely. We will be looking at next generation technologies including chatbots, big data & analytics as well as other hot topics that affect everyone in the NHS.

For example, we will focus on the issue of interoperability – the way that different systems talk to each other. At the moment, many systems in the NHS are incapable of sharing data about the same patient and it is one of the biggest problems in health and social care. One GP practice may have a system that is completely incompatible with another. This means, in practice, that a patient with a history of mental health problems who asks to be registered with a new GP, needs to reveal their own complete health history. This reliance on self-reporting could (in extreme situations) put a GP in danger. A&E departments in the same district may not be able to share information with each other easily, missing repeat patterns. With the advent of new ways of interfacing between systems such as APIs, interoperability is becoming a lot easier, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

We will also be discussing Artificial Intelligence and the role it can play in making healthcare more accessible and more effective using predictive technology and machine learning.

We will also be discussing Artificial Intelligence and the role it can play in making healthcare more accessible and more effective using predictive technology and machine learning.

There will also be a presentation about developments in 3D bioprinting. A team from the University of Edinburgh will talk about their work growing organs from stem cells, building up layer upon layer of cells to exact specifications.

Finally, we will be looking at how Blockchain – the digital security that underpins cryptocurrencies using a distributed ledger system, may be used in healthcare to securely monitor access to patient records. This would mean that there would be total transparency – you could keep abreast of every interaction with the record – while ensuring that there was no breach of trust. When patient confidentiality is so vital, and data protection is mandatory (note the arrival of GDPR soon), this kind of technology could be the answer to a complex problem.

We welcome medics, RSM members and non-members to attend the one day conference on Tuesday 27th February at the RSM’s London headquarters to discuss and learn about developments from the past year and assess the impact on future practice.

Clive Flashman

Mr Clive Flashman is President of the Telemedicine and eHealth Section of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Clive Flashman

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